New Jersey Youth Symphony
The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) is a non-profit organization based in New Providence, New Jersey. Founded in 1979, the NJYS has grown to annually provide nearly 450 young instrumentalists from all around New Jersey with outstanding music performance and educational experiences. There are three string ensembles, three full symphony orchestras, three flute ensembles, chamber music programs, music theory classes presented in accordance with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (UK), a summer camp, and other various outreach activities. NJYS accepts string players from 3rd grade to 12th grade, and wind and percussion players from 6th grade to 12th grade. All students are accepted by competitive audition and then placed in an appropriate ensemble based on age and playing ability. Audition Information is available at NJYS.org
The New Jersey Youth Symphony was founded by Jane Donnelly, Anne Shuhan, other interested central New Jersey parents and the administration of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO), the state's oldest and premier professional orchestra. The NJSO provided its Assistant Conductor, George Marriner Maull, to serve as Conductor of the NJYS. During the first year, Maestro Maull led a group of 65 high school-aged students, and in 1980 Maestro Maull was named Music Director of the NJYS. Within the family of NJYS ensembles this original group, still known as the Youth Symphony (YS), today boasts a roster of approximately 100 young musicians.
In 1980 the organization became an independent 501(c)(3) not for profit corporation. As the scope of the enterprise grew, the NJYS Board of Trustees hired Barbara Barstow to create new ensembles, the first of which was the Preparatory Orchestra, now known as the Youth Orchestra (YO). In 1983, she developed the Orchestral String Training Ensemble (OSTE) for younger string players who had not participated in an orchestra before.
Since that time, the organization has grown to include the ensembles and programs cited above. In 1997, George Marriner Maull resigned in order to devote more time to his other conducting post, the Philharmonic Orchestra of New Jersey, renamed to The Discovery Orchestra (TDO). In recognition of his 18-year tenure, Maestro Maull was named NJYS Conductor Laureate. He was succeeded first by conductor Adrian Bryttan and later by Paul Hostetter. The Youth Symphony is currently led by Maestro Jeffrey Grogan.
In 2001, Barbara Barstow was named Artistic Director of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, Inc., to guide and oversee the entire NJYS entity. At that time she also served as Conductor of Youth Orchestra, Junior Strings and the Orchestral String Training Ensemble. In the fall of 2007, Barstow announced her retirement from the organization in 2008.
NJYS is the only youth orchestra program in the New York metropolitan area that has its own permanent facility for orchestra and small ensemble rehearsals, as well as classroom spaces. The NJYS, Inc. has been administratively led by two Executive Directors: Linda Abrams (1984–2004) and presently Linda Onorevole.
Recipient of numerous accolades from the press, and Citations of Excellence from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Youth Symphony has mounted five European tours and performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on a number of occasions over its twenty-six year history.
Below are the list of current ensembles of the New Jersey Youth Symphony in order of youngest - oldest:
PREP : Beginning String Ensemble for students in grades 3-5
- Conducted by Michelle Hatcher
Junior Strings : Secondary String Ensemble for students in grades 5-7
- Conducted by Michelle Hatcher
Sinfonia : Advanced String Ensemble for students in grades 5-8
- Conducted by Kristi L Gaspari
JWE : Junior Wind Ensemble for students in grades 5-8
- Conducted by Bryan Rudderow
Flute Choir, Flute Forum and Fortissimo Flutes
- Conducted by Diana C. Reilly
Philharmonia : Beginning Full Orchestra for students in grades 6-9
- Conducted by Mark Gunderman
Youth Orchestra : Full orchestra for students in grades 7-12
- Conducted by Simon Lipskar
- Routinely performs at Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, NJ and larger auditoriums
Youth Symphony : Advanced Full Orchestra for high school aged students 9-12
- Conducted by Jeffrey Grogan
- Routinely performs at Rutgers University, Bergen PAC, NJPAC and Carnegie Hall
Fall Chamber Music : For NJYS members
- Sunday rehearsals during fall
- Performs at NJYS Music Center, Master Class Programs, Local chamber programs, nursing homes, schools, and other venues
Music Theory/Musicianship Training
Summer Camp : For Middle School aged students either currently in NJYS or not in the organization who are accepted by audition
- 10½ days of intense study all day
- Programs : Camp Orchestra, Chamber Orchestras, Chamber Ensembles, Private Lessons, Camp Choir, Tennis, and fun
- 2 Performances - Chamber Music and Full Concert
Every year, the orchestra holds a fundraiser performance at the Jersey Gardens Mall in Elizabeth, New Jersey with all of the 550 members of the organization. This light pops concert is the largest youth symphony performance in the world.
- "About Us", The Discovery Orchestra official website. Available online
- New Jersey Youth Symphony
- Quarter Notes - The NJYS Newsletter 2006
- Half Notes - The NJYS Newsletter Fall 2007